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  1. Yakuza Assets in Japan

Yakuza

The National Police Agency in Japan reported that the number of members in Japanese organized crime groups totaled 58,600 in 2013. The number of Yakuza members in 2013 was lower than the 63,200 reported in 2012.

This is the first time on record that the number of Yakuza members across the country was below 60,000.

Security experts in Japan state that there are various reasons for the decline in membership. Police have recently introduced tougher enforcement against the Yakuza, as well as a poor public image and a slowing Japanese economy has made the life of a gangster much more difficult in the country.

The largest Yakuza group in Japan is still the Yamaguchi-gumi. The group had a total of 25,700 members in 2013, a decline of 2,000 members from the year before. The second largest gang, the Sumiyoski-kai, had 9,500 gangsters on its roll, a decline of 1,100 from the previous year.

Source:  AFP, “Membership of Japan’s yakuza crime gangs falls to all-time low,” Guardian, March 6, 2014.

Police in Japan arrested over 24,000 yakuza members across the country in 2012. Included in the arrests were 23 bosses of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest organized crime syndicate in Japan. The crimes that the members were arrested for included extortion, illegal drugs, illegal gambling, theft and fraudulent activities.

In addition to arrests, yakuza groups across Japan have seen its membership decline in recent years.  According to intelligence by the National Police Agency, the recent high in membership occurred in 2004, where there were 87,000 yakuza members. Membership was declining roughly 3 percent each year until 2011, when the number of yakuza dropped 11 percent. It dropped another 10 percent in 2012 to leave a total of 63,200 members at the start of 2013.

(See additional information about today’s organized crime groups.)

Security officials in Japan and the United States attribute these declines to increase actions taken by financial regulators in both countries. In 2011, Japan passed a law making it illegal to conduct business with yakuza members. The United States Treasury Department also started to freeze the assets of the three largest yakuza gangs in the country. A freedom of information request by Bloomberg News found that two American Express cards issued to yakuza bosses were frozen.

Intelligence from security agencies state that the yakuza earns its revenue from various black market crimes, ranging from drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, extortion and money laundering. Before the financial crackdown, the gangs were diversifying their income streams to include construction, waste management, and financial services.

Source:  Terje Langeland and Takahiko Hyuga, “Yakuza Bosses Whacked by Regulators Freezing AmEx Cards.” Bloomberg, October 22, 2013.

Organized crime groups in Japan are running illegal gambling dens where computers display video of casinos in the Philippines and Costa Rica. The players in Japan watch the monitor and place their bets accordingly. The casinos in the foreign country are legal, while the gambling on the feed in Japan is not.

The virtual casino in Japan pays the actual casino 50 cents to receive a point, which is then sold to the gambler in Japan for $1. These points are used as casino chips when playing. 80 percent of the Japanese gamblers play baccarat.

According to law enforcement, these virtual casinos in Japan earn about $50,500 (5 Million Japanese Yen) each month.

(More earnings of illegal casinos.)

Source:  “Internet tele-casinos may be newest bet for yakuza groups,” Asahi Shimbum, September 16, 2013.

The author of a book about the Yakuza in Indonesia estimates that about $197 Million (2 Trillion Indonesian Rupiah) was laundered by Japanese organized crime groups out of Indonesia over the course of several year back from 2013.

Richard Susilo reports that the Yakuza has been active in Indonesia since the 1970s.

(More information about organized crime today.)

Source:  Tunggui Wirajuda, “Yakuza’s Place in Indonesia A Concern, Author Says,” Jakarta Globe, July 19, 2013.

The National Police Agency in Japan stated that 3,300 members of the Yamaguchi-gumi group quit organized crime activities in 2012.

The Yamaguchi-gumi is the largest Japanese Yakuza organization with 27,700 members. The group accounts for over 40 percent of the 63,200 Yakuza members in Japan as of 2012.

(More information about the Japanese Yakuza and other organized crime groups.)

Source:  AFP, “Japan mob publishes magazine for gangsters: reports,” Google News, July 10, 2013.

In the Japanese criminal gangs, members cut off their pinkie finger in a ritual called “yubitsume” whenever they have made a serious offense to the gang. Many former Yakuza members have a difficult time finding jobs due to the social stigma surrounding the gang.

A prosthetic expert in Japan creates silicone finger extensions for former Yakuza members. The price for the pinkie extension is $3,000. The expert makes about 20 to 30 fingers for former Yakuza members each year.

Source:  Stephen Williams, “Meet Japan’s specialist in helping ex-Yakuza mobsters replace their missing digits,” New York Daily News, June 8, 2013.

Japan’s National Police Agency reported that up to 213 yakuza groups were either broken up by police or dissolved on their own in 2013. The number of yakuza gang members in these groups was a combined 1,336 members.

In addition to these members, around 600 members quit and left organized crime activities in Japan in 2012.

The largest yakuza group in Japan, the Yamaguchi-gumi, had a reported 27,700 members at the end of 2012.

Source:  Kenji Ogata, “Police beef up career support for former yakuza,” Asahi Shimbun, May 7, 2013.

In 2012, a total of 2,224 companies in Japan were employing former Yakuza members, according to a survey conducted by the National Police Agency. The number of companies hiring workers was down from the high of 5,570 in 1995.

Police officials in Japan stated that out of the 1,254 Yakuza members who left their groups between 2009 and 2011, a total of 222 ended up returning to organized crime activities due to difficulties in finding jobs.

Source:  Kenji Ogawa, “Police beef up career support for former yakuza,” Asahi Shimbun, May 7, 2013.

Japan’s National Police Agency estimates that around 600 people quit their membership in Yakuza groups in 2012. Out of that total, 5 were able to find new employment at legitimate jobs through the use of support services.  7 former yakuza members were able to find employment in 2010, and 3 found jobs in 2011.

One of the reasons in the difficulty of former gang members finding jobs is due to the unique yakuza custom of cutting their own fingers. When a member causes problems for his group, the member cuts off a finger and presents it to the group as a sign of penance.

Businesses in Japan have been reluctant to hire individuals without fingers, as many customers do not want to have dealings with former gang members.

Source:  Kenji Ogata, “Prosthetist gives a helping finger to former yakuza,” Asahi Shimbun, April 3, 2013.

Japan’s National Police Agency reported that the largest Yakuza group in Japan, the Yamaguchi-gumi (gumi translates to group), had 27,700 members at the end of 2012.

Source:  AFP, “Japan’s NO.2 yakuza jailed for extortion,” GlobalPost, March 22, 2013.

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